The Last Jew of Treblinka: A Memoir

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9781605983424: The Last Jew of Treblinka: A Memoir

Quickly becoming a cornerstone of Holocaust historiography―a devastatingly stark memoir from one of the lone survivors of Treblinka.

Why do some live while so many others perish? Tiny children, old men, beautiful girls. In the gas chambers of Treblinka, all are equal. The Nazis kept the fires of Treblinka burning night and day, a central cog in the wheel of the Final Solution.

In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz and The Drowned and the Saved, Rajchman provides the only survivors’ record of Treblinka. Originally written in Yiddish in 1945, without hope or agenda other than to bear witness, Rajchman's tale shows that sometimes the bravest and most painful act of all is to remember.

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About the Author:

Chil Rajchman was born in Lodz, Poland, where he was an active member of the Jewish community. He survived for a year in the notorious Treblinka death camp and was part of the Treblinka workers’ revolt. Rajchman was also a key witness in the prosecution of a Treblinka guard known as “Ivan the Terrible” during a war-crime tribunal in Germany. He emigrated to Uruguay, where passed away in 2004.

From Booklist:

The extermination center Treblinka was located approximately 50 miles from Warsaw and became operational in June 1942. The sole purpose of the camp was the murder of Jews, a process which began immediately following disembarkation from the railway cars. The Nazis kept a few Jews temporarily alive to assist them in advancing the machinery of death. Rajchman was sent to Treblinka in 1942 at age 28. Until his escape 11 months later, he survived by working as a “barber” who shaved the hair of victims and as a “dentist” extracting gold teeth from corpses. His memoir, originally in Yiddish, is a hellish, heartbreaking account, as expected. Guards are consistently brutal and sadistic as they beat helpless victims on their way to the gas chambers. Rajchman presents horrifying, almost surreal images of piles of corpses, sand saturated with blood, and protruding bone fragments. At times, his descriptions are clinical and curiously detached; at others, rage at his oppressors surfaces. He eventually emigrated to Uruguay, where he died in 2004, leaving a memorable contribution to Holocaust scholarship. --Jay Freeman

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